When spring hit early this year for much of the country, garden retailers’ joy at sales starting early were tempered by not knowing what would happen later in the season.
Sure enough, part way into April, the weather pattern meteorologists are labeling the “omega block” set in, bringing cool, wet conditions to just about every major metropolitan area in the U.S. Major floods in the South resulted, and the weather pattern is being blamed for the huge wild fire in Fort McMurray in Canada.
But for most, sales continued to be strong, even when weather slowed things down. It was unexpected, and a relief. Financial consultant Steve Bailey, who tracks The Garden Center Group’s member’s sales and inventory reports, says revenues are up 19.5% year-to-date versus last year.
It should be noted, however, that where the rain was heaviest — the Deep South, and Texas — sales were down and business suffered.
We sent out a note to retailers across the country to see how thing’s were going for them. Here’s what we learned:
Tish Llaneza, Countryside Gardens, Hampton, VA: A lot of rain here in Tidewater, Va. Surprisingly sales are up a lot at Countryside Gardens. March and April’s weather pattern were reversed and it rained the last four days before Mother’s Day, but I spent they last two days directing traffic in the parking lot to get as many cars “parked properly.”
Theresa Riley, Rockledge Gardens, Rockledge, FL: Our spring has been pretty wonderful. We have pretty perfect weather. Though it got extra warm for a few weeks, people still came. And this past week was picture perfect. We know that the brakes will come on as soon as the hot weather is here to stay, but so far sales are up about 7% on sales over last year.
Michael Ludeman, Tumalo Garden Market, Tumalo, OR: We have had a great spring, business is booming, and all the trees that should bloom with flowers are.
Midwest and Canada
Will Heeman, Heeman’s Garden Centre, London, ON: So far we’re seeing that the people who are coming out are spending more and seem very excited for the gardening season. BUT the cool weather has seen less people, especially leading up to Mother’s Day. Still positive for the season, but we’re in a bit of a hole compared to the last couple years (which were all banner years).
Nola Wagner, Wagners Greenhouses, Minneapolis: It’s been good here in Minneapolis, with good weather and an early spring. We are rushing to meet the demand of gardeners who are anxious to get their spring planting started. Even so, we still recommend not to plant tomatoes until May 20, but these gardeners are just so anxious! Oh well, more power to them! We love them all!
Rick Vuyst, Flowerland, Grand Rapids, MI: It’s been a roller coaster ride. Huge gains in one week, then give it back in the next. Our weather pattern has resulted in inconsistency and wild swings. Mother’s Day weekend was great, even though we’ve had cool and wet weather. Upside? No frost and no frost in the forecast.
Maggie Bridge, Sam Bridge Nursery and Greenhouses, Greenwich, CT: So far sales are up for 2016. The dip in the weather has really slowed things down. The week leading up to Mother’s Day was extremely slow, but this past Saturday was packed. Numbers were good, but not great. We are expecting to get slammed the next two weeks — as long as the weather stays nice. Fingers crossed!
Valery Cordrey, East Coast Garden Center, Milsboro, DE: The rains and cool temperatures have really slowed business. Each passing cold and rainy day will make it more and more difficult to catch last years’ numbers. We started with a bang and then the weather changed.
Watch for a follow-up story that gives industry consultant’s insights on this spring!